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      1. Dragon-Elephant Tango Creating the Asian Century
        2019/04/04

        On April 4, 2019, Indian Newspaper The Indian Express published the article "Dragon-Elephant Tango Creating the Asian Century" of Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Luo Zhaohui on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India. The full text is as follows:

        The Imperial Hotel in the downtown of New Delhi is much favoured by Chinese because of its close bond to the People's Republic of China. After the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India on April 1, 1950, the hotel was rented as a temporary chancery for Chinese diplomats for three years. The first batch of diplomats of the People's Republic of China started their mission from scratch and made a great contribution to laying the foundation of China-India relations.

        As a Chinese saying goes, "A man seldom reaches the age of seventy years in ancient times." Looking back on the history after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India for nearly 70 years, I can't help but be felt with emotions.

        The establishment of diplomatic ties was a major event in China-India relations, which had significant international implications. Through the sufferings of aggression by colonialists and fascists, the two ancient Eastern civilizations had come together side by side and opened a brilliant chapter in the journey of national independence and liberation movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America, ushering in the magnificent process of reviving Eastern civilizations.

        The establishment of diplomatic ties inherited the friendly exchanges between China and India for two thousand years. Towering snow-capped mountains and vast expanse of deserts have never blocked the exchanges between Chinese and Indian civilizations. Emperor Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty once dreamed of a golden statue and then dispatched envoys to the Western Regions. They met two eminent monks Kasyapa Matanga and Dharmaraksa from India with a white horse, carrying Buddhism scriptures on the way to China. This indicates that Buddhism was introduced eastward to China from its cradle in India. Monk Xuanzang made a pilgrimage to the West for Buddhism scriptures. Several other eminent monks also crossed sea and mountains alone far to India. Zhang Qian, a famous Chinese envoy in Han Dynasty, went to the Western Regions and discovered "Shu cloth" and "bamboo sticks" that were imported from India. Chinese paper-making, silk, porcelain and tea were introduced to India, and Indian songs and dances, astronomy, architecture and spices were introduced to China. This is a historical evidence of mutual exchanges between the two sides via the ancient Silk Road. During his seven expeditions, the great Chinese navigator Zheng He visited India six times. Since modern times, Dr. Sun Yat-sen and other Chinese revolutionists had been supporting the Indian independence movement. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore visited China twice and advocated Eastern spiritual civilization together with Tan Yunshan (the founding director of the Department of Chinese Language and Culture "Cheena-Bhavana" at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan). During the war against Japanese aggression, India sent a medical mission to China in which Doctor Dwarkanath Kotnis, one outstanding representative of this medical team, sacrificed his life in China. Prof. Xu Fancheng, a famous Chinese scholar and translator, spent 33 years in India, where he translated the Hindu classic Bhagavad Gita.

        The establishment of diplomatic ties opened a new journey in the development of modern China-India relations. India was the first non-socialist country to establish diplomatic relations with China. The Indian film Awaara had since swept China and influenced a generation. "Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai" had become a catchphrase in India, inspiring young people to join the tide of China-India friendship. In my view, China-India relations can be divided into four phases since the establishment of diplomatic ties:

        The first phase is the "honeymoon period" immediately after the establishment of diplomatic relations. In addition to jointly proposing the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Premier Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru exchanged visits and jointly attended the Bandung Conference, guiding the agenda and process of the conference. China and India also conducted cooperation on the 1954 Geneva Conference regarding the settlement of outstanding issues resulting from the First Indochina War.

        In the second phase, after the border conflict in 1962, China-India relations fell into a "frozen period". It was not until Labour Day in 1970 that Chairman Mao Zedong, after shaking hands with Mr. Brajesh Mishra, the then Charge d'Affaires of the Indian Embassy in China at the Tian'anmen Rostrum, said "we cannot keep on quarrelling like this. We should try and be friends again." The two sides then resumed contacts. In 1988, the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi started his "ice-breaking visit" to China, and the two sides reached the consensus to delink the boundary question from the overall development of bilateral relations.

        The third phase, from the 1990s to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, is the "recovery period" of China-India relations. China and India began the process of normalization of the bilateral relations. The two countries found more common language by seeking development and cooperation, promoted reform and opening up through mutual learning, and pushed for a complete settlement of the issues of Tibet and Sikkim left by the history. Entering the new century, China and India have expanded cooperation from bilateral to multilateral areas, and have joined hands to speak up for emerging economies.

        The fourth phase, from the CPC's 18th National Congress in 2012 until the present, is the "acceleration period" of China-India relations. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi initiated "hometown diplomacy" and put huge efforts into China-India relations. India was the first stop of Premier Li Keqiang's outgoing visits since he took office. Bilateral relations experienced large fluctuations due to the Donglang standoff in 2017. However, the two leaders decided to take a forward-looking approach to "turn the page and open a new chapter of the bilateral relations" during the BRICS Xiamen summit in September 2017. With great vision, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi held their first historic informal meeting in Wuhan in April 2018. Subsequently, the two leaders met three times on different occasions and three Chinese State Councilors also visited India respectively. China-India relations have upgraded and entered the fast track of development, becoming a highlight of China's neighborhood diplomacy. This represents a successful practice of Xi Jinping's Thought on Diplomacy.

        In general, China-India relations have experienced hardships and overcome obstacles. The current sound momentum of development has not come by easily and should be cherished. Taking history as a mirror, we have the following observations:

        First, leaders' strategic guidance runs through China-India relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, our two leaders have always firmly grasped the general direction of the development of China-India relations. Whenever we fought side by side during the national liberation movement, or put relations back on track after border conflicts, whenever we learned from each other in the tide of reform and opening up, or explored ways for major emerging and neighboring countries to get along with each other in the new era, our two leaders, like helmsmen, always set things right at crucial moments and lead the ship of China-India relations through the waves to forge ahead.

        Second, China-India relations have gone through twists and turns, but the forward momentum is unstoppable. From the perspective of the four phases after the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-India relations have experienced ups and downs, smooth and bumpy. From the perspective of peak-valley fluctuation model, the fluctuation interval is getting shorter and shorter, which shows the sensitivity, maturity and adaptability of China-India relations. The past 69 years has proven that friendly cooperation, which has dominated most of the time, is the general trend and the mainstream, far more prominent than differences and frictions.

        Third, people-to-people exchanges are the "adhesive" for bilateral relations. The Chinese and Indian civilizations share the same Eastern gene, which enabled us to break down barriers and emerge even in difficult times. In 1981, China and India resumed yatra for official Indian pilgrims to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, Tibet, China. So far, the two countries have established over ten pairs of sister cities or provinces, and personnel exchanges have exceeded one million. The total number of Indian students studying in China is over 20,000. Chinese food, acupuncture, martial arts and movie stars are increasingly popular in India. Practicing yoga, tasting Darjeeling tea and watching Bollywood films have become fashionable among the Chinese youth. Yunnan Minzu University of China became the first university out of India to award master's degrees in yoga. Last year, the two countries established the High-Level People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Mechanism and held its first meeting. It is another creative initiative to deepen people-to-people ties between the two countries, unprecedented in the history of China-India relations.

        Fourth, pragmatic cooperation is the "ballast stone". The Nathu La Pass was the main access to the Southern line of the Silk Road as part of the "Tea Horse Road" in the history. In 2006, China and India reopened the Nathu La border trade route, which had been closed for 44 years. China has been India's largest trading partner for consecutive years, with bilateral trade reaching a record high of 95.5 billion US dollars in 2018. At present, more than 1,000 Chinese companies are doing business in India, and Chinese mobile phone brands such as Xiaomi, VIVO and OPPO have represented half of the Indian market. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) of India has established three IT corridors in Dalian, Guizhou and Xuzhou, China. China and India have great potential for cooperation in the fields of medicine, information technology and interconnectivity.

        Fifth, multilateral cooperation is the "growth point". As developing countries, China and India both face the same tasks of developing the economy and improving people's livelihoods. The two countries are at a critical stage of deepening reform and advancing the modernization process, which require a favorable external environment. As members of multilateral organizations such as RIC, the BRICS, SCO, the G20, etc., both China and India share common interests in promoting globalization and opposing trade protectionism. China and India's interests converge as the two countries share similar positions on major international issues. By speaking in one voice, the two countries are injecting new impetus into the development of the bilateral relations.

        Sixth, managing differences is the "stabilizer". China-India relations have been disturbed by differences and problems from time to time. The "negative list" not only includes issues such as boundary and Dalai Lama left by history, but also emerging ones such as the listing issue of the UN Security Council 1267 Committee. Some third-party factors such as Pakistan, the United States, and South Asia have implications for China-India relations as well. China and India have successfully resolved the issues of Tibet and Sikkim through consultation and dialogue. In recent years, the two countries have been exploring "China-India Plus", a new model of cooperation, and successfully carried out a joint China-India training program for Afghan diplomats. It should be the direction of efforts for China and India to enhance mutual trust, enlarge cooperation cakes and narrow down the divergence.

        China and India will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020. Looking forward, we should continue to take Xi Jinping's Thought on Diplomacy as guidance and highlight the three key words of "transmission", "stability" and "vision" to achieve steady and long-term development of China-India relations. Regarding transmission, we need to transmit the consensus of the two leaders achieved during the Wuhan summit to the grass-root level, and translate it into action. Regarding stability, we need to transcend crisis-managing diplomacy, explore a model to actively shape the relations and break the cycle of ups and downs in the bilateral relations. Regarding vision, we need to be guided by four-area cooperation, namely negotiating and signing "China-India Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation", exploring free trade agreements, initiating consultations on early harvests of the boundary question, and achieving synergy on the Belt and Road Initiative. I believe that as two ancient civilizations, China and India have the ability and wisdom to find path for major emerging and neighboring countries to get along with each other, join hands to realize "Dragon-Elephant Tango", create the Asian century and achieve greater glory in the next 70 years!

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